Stage 21 – Alexander the Average gets final stage victory

It was never going to be a sprint royale with most of the sprinters, and previous winners on the Champs-Elysées already watching on TV at home. But it was the last chance for the few real sprinters who had not won anything, namely Kristoff. Colbrelli is more like Sagan, not a pure speed sprinter, so it looked like it would be a battle between Demare and the Norwegian. Kristoff saved his tour and season, in the same way Robbie McEwan saved his career back in 1999, by winning on the Champs-Elysées. Degankolb came in for 2nd with Demare taking third.

It was a day of celebration for Geraint Thomas and Sky as they won their 6th tour and the first with a proper Brit. Thomas looked totally bemused in the interviews before the final stage as he came to grips with the enormity of what he had done. For Sky it was the perfect result as it took the heat of them. If Froome had won, the boos would have probably echoed down the grand boulevards of Paris. But G is a popular winner, no TUE’s in his palmares…

Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit. I have tried to be witty in my posts by quoting the great Oscar Wilde every day. Special mention to Gags for picking it up early on and quoting back at me a couple of times. Chapeau!

Normally with the competition I drag it out over a couple of days, build the suspense. But the only suspense is am I going to get fired if I don’t get my preparation done for a conference next week! So this post will contain all the results and will build the suspense as I process the results. I will show the top 10 and bottom 5 as the points are allocated.

Stage 21 results

After the final stage there was no change at the top with Sam Green Machine and Snicko 2 holding on to the top 2 spots, although newcomer Team Read Eye muscled her way into the top 3.  Bottom 2 remained the same With Thye Jazz Singer and Mrs Cookie looking solid, but a late change for the bottom coming from LJ. Big mover mention goes to Gobi Bill up 81 places, bit late to be starting a run I think.

Ranked scores after stage 21
Rank Prev Direction Player Score
1 1 Sam Green Machine 1353
2 2 Snicko 2 1214
3 5 ↑2 Team Red Eye 1185
4 3 ↓1 Spartacus 1182
5 6 ↑1 Mrs Trab 1136
6 4 ↓2 Sicknote 3 1124
7 15 ↑8 Bergziegen 1083
8 7 ↓1 Nubbie 1082
9 28 ↑19 Mrs Sagan 2 1066
10 12 ↑2 Mrs Green Machine 1059
276 273 ↓3 Vigorous Vehicles 237
277 277 K-man (Kieran) 218
278 279 ↑1 Give him some Froome! 217
279 276 ↓3 LJ 213
280 280 Mrs Cookie 212
281 281 The Jazz Singer 180

Polka Dot Jersey

The first of the jerseys to have points allocated will be the Polka Dot or mountains jersey. No change at the top with Sam Green Machine looking solid. A general reshuffling below with Spunker being the new entry into the top 10. The cellar dwellers look solid as well with no movement from the bottom 2.

Ranked scores after stage PD
Rank Prev Direction Player Score
1 1 Sam Green Machine 1445
2 5 ↑3 Mrs Trab 1344
3 2 ↓1 Snicko 2 1330
4 8 ↑4 Nubbie 1326
5 10 ↑5 Mrs Green Machine 1323
6 4 ↓2 Spartacus 1226
7 13 ↑6 Spunker 1221
8 3 ↓5 Team Red Eye 1185
9 7 ↓2 Bergziegen 1171
10 6 ↓4 Sicknote 3 1132
277 274 ↓3 Orange Cycle Lady 1 240
278 279 ↑1 LJ 237
279 278 ↓1 Give him some Froome! 217
280 280 Mrs Cookie 212
281 281 The Jazz Singer 180

Green Jersey

On to the Green jersey points. Finally a change at the top, and the bottom! However Mrs Green Machine just takes over from daughter Sam Green Machine. two new entries into the top 10 with Chuck Charity 8 and Keep your Pecker up. The Jazz Singer finally relinquishes control of the Lantern Rouge thanks to Greg Van Avermaet and Thomas Boudat. It doesn’t take many points to change positions near the bottom. Mrs Cookie takes the opportunity to hit rock bottom but is closely followed by Give him some Froome!

Ranked scores after stage G
Rank Prev Direction Player Score
1 5 ↑4 Mrs Green Machine 1505
2 1 ↓1 Sam Green Machine 1481
3 2 ↓1 Mrs Trab 1432
4 4 Nubbie 1418
5 6 ↑1 Spartacus 1364
6 3 ↓3 Snicko 2 1338
7 9 ↑2 Bergziegen 1321
8 7 ↓1 Spunker 1317
9 12 ↑3 Chuck Charity 8 1291
10 19 ↑9 Keep your pecker up 1266
277 276 ↓1 Vigorous Vehicles 253
278 281 ↑3 The Jazz Singer 248
279 278 ↓1 LJ 237
280 279 ↓1 Give him some Froome! 217
281 280 ↓1 Mrs Cookie 212

Yellow Jersey

Now the big one, with points allocated for the top 20. This is the jersey that normally has the biggest effect on the competition. So after briefly being knocked off the top, Sam Green Machine moves back into the lead to take out the competition, with Mrs Green Machine fading to 4th. Buskers 3 came from outside the top 10 to slip into 2nd place in the comp and a resurgent Snicko 2 moves back onto the podium. three big movers to move into the prize money were Cat Six 3, Saint Meg and Rainbird coming from outside the top 20 to move into the top 7. At the bottom The Jazz Singer, who looked like a shoe in disappeared out of the top 5 thanks to Ilnur Zakarin. The bottom three stayed the same with Mrs Cookie holding on for the big dollars, followed closely by Give him some Froome and LJ.

A note will follow with the prize money allocations and the results of the team prize as well.

Ranked scores after stage Y
Rank Prev Direction Player Score
1 2 ↑1 Sam Green Machine 2061
2 14 ↑12 Buskers 3 1906
3 6 ↑3 Snicko 2 1858
4 1 ↓3 Mrs Green Machine 1805
5 21 ↑16 Cat Six 3 1707
6 26 ↑20 Saint Meg 1700
7 27 ↑20 Rainbird 1632
8 7 ↓1 Bergziegen 1621
9 3 ↓6 Mrs Trab 1620
10 5 ↓5 Spartacus 1584
277 271 ↓6 Nice Package 313
278 277 ↓1 Vigorous Vehicles 253
279 279 LJ 237
280 280 Give him some Froome! 217
281 281 Mrs Cookie 212

Many thanks to everyone for taking part. It’s all about the charity and the fun, so thanks for allowing me to entertain myself, and hopefully make a small difference in the lives of a few children.

Advertisements

Stage 20 – Spicy finish as Big Tom does Froomey by 1 second

Short report today, Tour is taking it’s toll, I am tired after the TT. With the top 4 in the GC all being accomplished TT riders it looked like an interesting battle for the podium. All Thomas had to do was do a solid ride. The main battle was if Roglic could hold on to 3rd and even overhaul Dumoulin for 2nd. The pair had met at the worlds last year where Tommy the tank engine took gold over Roglic’s silver. In the end it was Roglic who failed and slipped to 4th spot as Froome took 2nd behind Big Tom by 1 second. Thomas did more than a solid ride and came in in 3rd spot to seal this years Tour win, presuming he can stay on his bike today. Watching SAgan these last two days, there is something terribly morbid in the modern sympathy with pain. One should sympathise with the colour, the beauty, the joy of life. The less said about life’s sores the better.

Sam Green Machine holds on to top spot, as Roglic and Durbo let Snicko 2 down, although he did overhaul Sicknote 3, who was really dining in on the first 2 weeks of scoring. A new name in the top three with Spartacus taking the last podium spot before today’s stage. The Jazz Singer holds only the lantern rouge spot but it looks like she may get some competition from Mrs Cookie, who is making a late run for the coveted bottom spot. Big mover mention goes to Buskers 3 who breaks into the top 100, up 58 places.

One more stage to survive…

Stage 19 – Roglic conquers large hill to set up podium

Last nights stage lived up to expectations, from the drama of the attacks at the front to the drama of whether a broken Peter Sagan would make the time cut, the stage had it all. Sagan would have to use all of his experience and toughness to get through arguable the toughest stage, and as experience is simply the name we give our mistakes, he was paying dearly for the mistake of two days ago when he tested gravity, and lost. Riding with one butt muscle has got to hurt. To lose Peter Perfect from the tour in such a way would be very sad, but he had just about all his team mates, as well as Demare and his team mates, to get them through it. In the end they came in “comfortably” 8 minutes within the time limit. He was wearing the mask of pain on the first climb, and was really having to reach into the suitcase of courage. Not sure he found much in there. Thankfully by the final climb we were concentrating on the front and did not have to watch him suffer. It was painful just watching. Have I mentioned Neymar recently?

The pointy end was all the attacking that I hoped it would be. Bardet and Landa went early to try and gap Sky. But they were eventually brought back just before the top of the final climb. Dumoulin tried a couple of digs but was marked well by Thomas. Roglic went and was marked by Froome. In the end, Roglic got away on the descent, I guess ex ski jumpers have no fear. Big Tom accused him of using the motorbikes but I couldn’t see much in it. Plus it was hard for the bikes to get out of the way, and without them, we would have no coverage. He managed to get 19 seconds on the select group that finished, with G sprinting for 2nd place, having ridden impeccably all day. Roglic overhauled Froome for 3rd and is just behind Doumoulin in 2nd, setting up a fascinating top 10 in the Time Trial tonight.

No change at the top with Sam Green Machine and Sicknote 3 dueling it out. One of our big charity teams, Snicko 2 makes his move, up 7 to slip into 3rd. With Dumoulin, Roglic and Durbo in his team there is a good chance he will score big tonight, but has he left his run too late. Probably no points on Sunday, but when the jersey tallies are done he is looking like one of our favourites. No change with the bottom three with The Jazz Singer holding on. Big mover mention goes to Simmie up 73 places, this will be a test to see if he reads my reports! He only just pipped Donald Russian Masseuse who was up 72 spots and deserved a mention for their team name! Finally a special mention to the other Mr Sagan for her team Mrs Sagan 3. She is down to just two riders. I think she will still have them in Paris though. We have never had anyone finish with no riders, but I think she may be the closest yet. On the good news front she may be back in the game as I heard Peter Perfect was getting divorced…

Time to hoe into Tommo time. After the stage question to Macca – “Unless something drastic happens tomorrow or Sunday, can we assume that Thomas will win the Tour?” Master of stating the bleeding obvious. Macca was talking about a Polish rider who helped Sagan get back after the 1st climb. Tommo suggested Majka. Majka was up front all day, not helping Sagan. Macca didn’t ask him to name any Polish rider, maybe Tommo misunderstood the question. Finally he made the statement that the Welsh punch above their weight, citing the football team at the European champs, and their rugby team. Tommo, you missed to obvious and most relevant example. Geraint Thomas, if he wins, will be the 2nd Welsh rider to win the Tour de France. Nicole Cooke, won the ladies version twice and is probably the best British cyclist in history. Especially considering the women did not get paid a shekel in those days, and mostly had to win on their own ability rather than having stong teams around them.

Finally, SBS have Gabriel Gate to talk about food, you only have me. Tonight I will be cooking Axoa, a veal and pepper stew spiced with piment d’Espelette, from where the TT finishes. I liked this page as they used the same WordPress schema that I did. I may try and cook a Basque gateau as well. maybe next year I will add a food segment to my reports…

Stage 18 – Demare closes door on Laporte for victory

I feel like I have ridden this tour, such was my exhaustion last night. I knew what to expect, and that was technically a rest day for the riders and myself. Long stage, generally flat except for a 4th cat climb in the last hour. Breakaway goes, peloton keeps it on a leash, pulls it back, sprint. As such I decided to kick back, watch a movie, and rejoin for the final 35km. The odd flick back told me I was not missing much except 5 big blokes yo-yoing  between 1 and 2 minutes off the front. Sky had a day off as the sprint teams of FDJ and UAE controlled the race. They had the 2 favourites in Demare and Kristoff, with Colbrelli, Laporte and Degankold sitting in the wings, especially with a broken Sagan after his high speed crash the day before. And so it was as predicted, a sprint and a perfect lead out for Demare who looked the strongest considering how hard he had to fight to avoid elimination the previous day. One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards, so I don’t know why he moved a bit to his left to close the door on  Laporte (see what I did there…). It wasn’t enough to get penalized, but maybe Demare just can’t help himself. I still blame him for the Sagan-Cavendish incident in last years tour, and have already watched him chop Cav up once on this years tour.

Special mention to Peter Perfect. Big crash the previous day and one could forgive him for keeping Lawson Craddock company in the pelotons sick bay at the back. But he sent his team to the front and had a crack, managing 8th. I always find it is the 2nd day after a crash that hurts the most, so today’s stage will be tough. But to use his own words “I’m not afraid of anything. I’m going to suffer a little bit, that’s all.” Obviously he won’t suffer like those poor football players in the world cup…

The big news of the day was Greipel tweeting that the only way Demare could have avoided elimination the previous day was by holding on to a car, and using the hash tag #notforthefirsttime. Demare sent Greipel his GPS data, and Greipel made a public apology and removed the tweet, but Demare would not accept the apology. Greipel is a nice bloke, and was big enough to apologise publicly, plus, Arnaud has form after “allegedly” taking a tow up the Cipressa in Milan-San Remo (That’s a monument BTW Pinnacle Insulting Group). Anyway, it added a bit of Bold and Beautiful drama to what was essentially a dull stage.

No change in the top two spots with Sam Green Machine holding off Sicknote 3. Mrs Trab moved into 3rd spot thanks to Laporte. The Jazz Singer finally hit the lows of rock bottom, and looks to be favorite to hold on looking at her team. I heard this morning that she has suddenly started to take an interest now she knows there is some prize money for the bottom few places! Big mover mention goes to Sportzcorp 4 who has just crept in to the top half of the table, up 76 spots to 148th.

Tonight should be a cracker of a stage with 2 HC climbs and a 1st and 2nd category. Expect fireworks on the final climb up the Col d’Aubisque as Bardet will trust his descending skills to try and salvage something from this tour. Sky will be under attack I imagine from Movistar and especially Lotto-NL Jumbo, who have been real animators in this years GC battle. Danny Boy will obviously attack as well, well why wouldn’t he, he can’t help himself.

 

Stage 17 – Peter Perfect makes mistake…

In his own words “After, I flew through the forest and I hit a big rock with my ass.” Taken from Cyclingnews, however I added the punctuation. Not so perfect, but he will fight on to Paris. It promised to be an eventful stage, and it was. The grid start was a bit silly as it changed nothing. The Sky riders went to the front and did what they normally do. Alaphilippe grabbed a bucket more points in the KOM jersey, he just has to survive Fridays brutal stage to take the jersey to Paris. The GC riders watched eeach other for the first 2 climbs and then the attacks started. Quintana finally got away with Danny Boy, but was too strong for him and went on to finish alone, with the Brummie in 2nd place. The top 4 then all had a crack at each other in the final few kilometers. First Roglic, marked by Froome, then Big Tom, marked by G. When Big Tom had his main crack at 1.7km to go G and Roglic followed but Froome cracked, tongue dangling. Then as the line approached Thomas jumped to get a few extra seconds on Dumoulin. Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result but Thomas still has one day where he could crack, and anything could happen in the TT on Saturday, so this tour is not over yet.

Matt and Robbie have not given me a lot of material to slag them off over, but I can always rely on Tommo for some material. His main faux pas last night was saying that Arnaud Demare finished outside the time limit and was eliminated. I went scrambling to my tipping to update my abandons sheet. Just as the TV showed the Frenchman dropping off the back of the peloton last night.

A couple of nights ago Tommo was waxing lyrical about Sagan and how there has not been a rider of his class since Eddy Merckx.; Don’t get me wrong, I think he is a brilliant cyclist and a great character in the bunch. But let’s compare Peter Perfect to say Sean Kelly, a similar type of rider. Sagan has won 3 world championships, but has only won 2 monuments, along with 6 green jerseys, presuming he finishes this years tour. King Kelly came 3rd at the words twice I think, robbed by Greg Lemond and Stephen Roche (Dan Martins uncle incidentally), but has won 9 monuments, and 4 green jerseys. He also won Paris-Nice 7 times in a row, and finished top 5 in the Tour de France. I could go on. I am not saying Kelly is better than Sagan, I am just saying Tommo, check your facts. Plus I did not even mention Hinault…

Sam Green Machine takes out Sicknote 3 for the lead in the competition. She is looking good for the win now with G and Bardet in her team, but it is tight at the top with Chuck Charity 8 making a late charge to be on equal 3rd with Hearththrobs09. A lot of charity teams at the top this year. Big mover is another of my mate Steve’s teams, Cat Six 4 up 77 places. Two mentions in two days. It was close as my team O’Dirty was only just behind him up 69 places. Don’t often get to give myself a mention. Our new lantern rouge is Buskers 1, knocking Il Papa from the bottom. But my God Daughter, The Jazz Singer is in hot pursuit for last spot.

Stage 16 – Cyclist breaks kneecap, gives thumbs up and carries on. In other news Neymar falls over and acts like a sook.

In the first day in the Pyrenees, and the day after the rest day, it was going to be tough for some. It started off tough for everyone as farmers blocked the road striking for some reason. Pepper spray was used and the riders copped the aftermath, a lot of them affected by the spray.

Once the race got going, and it took over 100knm for a breakaway to start, Demare got dropped early and rode by himself all day, personally cos I think he has no mates, not even his team wanted to ride with him. But Quelle surprise, a large breakaway went away, and stayed away, while the GC contenders all kept their powder dry, especially the Colombians, for tonight’s stage. So it was a stage where Tour salvage was on the cards for Yates and Mollema, and points were up for grab for Alaphilippe.

The first casualty was Philippe Gilbert who got a bend wrong on the 2nd last descent and went over a wall into a ravine. It looked bad, but he climbed out of the ravine and gave a thumbs up to the camera before climbing back on his bike. He only broke his kneecap so anything else would have been soft right?

The final descent was always going to be decisive. Fabio Casartelli died on this descent 23 years ago, so we all hoped for a safe descent, especially as some bends were a bit damp. Yates made the big move on the final climb of the day. He needed at least 30 seconds on Alaphilippe to have any chance of the win, and as Alaphilippe went over the top in 2nd place, 23 seconds down, the race was on. Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess, and moderation in descending is not something the descending artist Alaphilippe has, he has skills in excess. But Yates is a pretty good descender himself. He was holding the Frenchman at about 15 seconds and looking like he had a chance, but then on a bend his front wheel slipped out and dumped him on the road. Alaphilippe went round him, and showing what a top bloke he is, he actually sat up a bit to try and let Yates get back on. However he could see Yates head was no longer in the game, so went on by himself to take his 2nd victory of this Tour.

In the comp, Sicknote 3 keeps surprising by his tenacity thanks to Gesink. Sam Green Machine and Heartthrobs09 swap places again and Team Red Eye and Babel hold firm in the top 5. At the bottom Il Papa is back where he belongs, in the cellar propping up 280 other competitors. However the bottom 3 are only separated by a single point. Today’s big mover was Cat Six 1 up 74 places from nowhere to 74 places above nowhere.

Tonight’s stage should be interesting, 65km, some weird grid start and two cat 1’s and a HC climb. If you haven’t watch a stage yet, tonight’s is the one to watch.

Stage 15 – Moscon does a Bouhani

In what was to become another transition stage that looked like it would not involve the GC team, Sky decided to make the news a different way. Gianni Moscon lashed out at Furtuneo-Samsic’s Elie Gesbert. With Boxer Bohani not selected for the tour this year it was difficult to see who was going to win the Tool of the Tour prize, something that is generally a given for Bouhani. But Moscon stepped up and showed his true colours in the first kilometer of the race. He has a reputation, having got off with allegedly knocking off Sebastien Reichenbach last year, causing him to fracture his elbow. In an incident that shows that no good deed goes unpunished, Moscon allegedly knocked Reichenbach off in retaliation of him dobbing Moscon in for racially abusing Kevin Reza, something he admitted to and served a Sky imposed 6 week ban for. In any normal workplace this behaviour would not be tolerated, so if Sky want to save some semblance of credibility he needs to be sacked in my opinion.

In the race, a break went away, everyone else had a cruisie ride through the beautiful French countryside, and Magnus Cort-Nielsen won a 3-up sprint. Thanks Gianni for giving me something more interesting to write about.

So today is prize day in the tipping comp. Sicknote 3 managed to hold on to top spot for the Rest Day prize of $30. Heartthrobs09 swapped places with Sam Green Machine to take the $20 over Sammies $10. What is more exciting is the movement at the bottom of the table. The previous day stagnation, was replaced by a lot of movement, with K-man (Kieran)knocking Il Papa out of the Lantern Rouge spot. Todays big mover mention goes to Chuck Charity 15.

Rest Day redraw today. So look out for your new teams later today. Announcement will follow.

Stage 14 – Omar exposes Stuyvens frailty, as Roglic jumps away from GC contenders

Last night we got two races in one. The sprint for stage honours and then 15 minutes later the battle for time on the GC. I was hoping Stuyven could hang on for the win, but he came 200m short as it was obvious the first over the top of the last climb would get line honours. People who count their chickens before they are hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to count them accurately, and so it was as Omar Fraile caught Stuyven just before the crest and swooped to victory. Alaphilippe left his charge a bit too late to close the gap and had to settle for 2nd place ahead of Styven. In the GC there were some tests, but in the end the only attack that stuck was that from 4th place Primoz Roglic who jumped away to gain a few seconds on Big Tom, Froomey and G. If the top four stay the same after the Pyrenees it should make the final TT interesting as all four can time trial.

Another dull day in the comp with consolodation the key. Sicknote 3 holds on to top spot with a gain of 30 points for having G in yellow. Sam Green Machine jumps over Heartthrobs09 thanks to Alaphilippe. The bottom 10 did not move, with Il Papa keeping the Lantern Rouge. Big mover today was The Evil Pony, up 73 places into mid table mediocrity.

Stage 13 – Sagan wins training sprint

With just about every serious sprinter on the plane home, tonights sprint was always going to be dull. Demare can’t win a sprint unless he is towed by a car to the final 10km, so he never had a chance. Kristoff I think is past his use by date. I don’t know where Colbrelli was, but 3 days in the alps have probably taken the sting out of most peoples legs. So it was always going to be Sagan who was given the perfect lead out from Kristoff and Demare. I bet Mitchelton Scott wish they had brought Caleb Ewan based on the performance of Adam Yates, They might well have been competing in the sprints. All that they will get from Ewan now, is his signature on another teams contract. The stage was dull, but I think it was a good recovery for the riders and gave Thomas a chance to reflect on what he has done and enjoy the jersey for a day. He is only the 3rd rider in history to win back to back alpine stages after Coppi and Zootemelk. I hope he doesn’t have his usual bad day in the 3rd week, but we shall see what the Pyrenees bring, if they can get through the Massif Central unscathed.

I have to say I love the l’alpe d’huez climb. It is always a stadium of excitement with regard to the race. Cycling is an amazing sport that allows fans unfettered access to the stars. But when that starts to affect the safety of the riders it really starts to be ridiculous. Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike. In this case Team Sky. The boos leveled at the riders were audible for 13.8km up the Alpe. It is a complex issue with Froome. His case was leaked when it should not have been, then the UCI and WADA cleared him. Surely the boos should be leveled at the governing bodies for their inadequate handling of the issue. But does it warrant the physical attacks as were witnessed on TV, or being spat at. This is not just at Froome, but at other Sky riders. I don’t like the way Froome rides, but I won’t boo him for it, maybe just tell him to tuck his elbows in a bit. Thomas has been an entertaining rider, working in the service of others at the tour for the past 9 years, does he warrant the boos?

The crowd looked more feral than usual and bore more a resemblance to the stands in a European football stadium. Drunk blokes wearing football shirts and waving flags, letting off flares. I saw a lot of Portuguese flags which is odd as there are no Portuguese riders in the Tour this year. I suspect there were a load of football thugs on their way back from Russia looking to use all the spare flares they had once their teams were eliminated. A mountain stage at L’alpe d’Huez has become like the Running or the Bulls in Pamplona, something one has to do, and you have to get a selfie running next to a rider. Just stupid, and now Nibali is out of the Tour possibly because of these clowns.

Wow, after 3 days in the alps I felt weary and thought I did not have any words in me. Had to dig deep… The tipping competition was as dull last night as the stage. No change in the top three spots with Sicknote 3 holding on the the top spot. Il Papa maintained his Lantern Rouge spot with another solid performance of zero points. In a tight day of movers the big mover was Special K up 60 spots.

The next 2 stages will be testing again, but I suspect breakaways might be let to go, although there are chances for the GC riders to lose time on the steep finish to Mende, but the 1.7km flat after the climb might dissuade riders, other than maybe Big Tom.

Stage 12 – Carnage

Not much of a cheesy headline today, as it was the only word that came to mind after last nights epic stage. I had made a bunch of obviously witty and amusing notes on my laptop, but when I awoke this morning it had crashed. So you will just have to make do with the usual drivel.

I could not believe the commentary, as it seemed every few kms another rider abandoned. After the previous days stage saw Cav and Kittel depart, it was another bad day for the sprinters, on a day when one G won again, the three G’s of Gaviria, Griepel and Gronewegen were all eliminated. They were not alone when GC rider Uran Uran come undone, and Nibbles was knocked off and fractured a vertebrae. The later was cleaned up presumably by a football fan on their way back from the World Cup just as the barriers were starting. He finished, but was air lifted to hospital where his injury was diagnosed. It is a shame as he was still well poised just behind Froome and Big Tom going into the Pyrenees.

As for the stage, it was another cracker. Kruijswijk went out on a big adventure that almost paid off, trying to get the Alp back from the French for the Dutch riders. He was close, but got mopped up in the last few km by the main GC riders. They were throwing punches with attacks from Bardet, Quintana, Nibbles and Froome, until it all settled down once Tom the tank engine brought Froome back. Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go, and that was the case for me watching Thomas take the last corner wide to get a gap and open up his sprint to go for the line and take a 2nd stage in a row. The statement is also true, when you see G interviewed. Never short of a quip or two, he was entertaining when asked about the win. answering “Phoar” and “Can we just go to Paris now?”. Far more entertaining than the clinical interviews from team mate Froome. He may never get a better chance to win this race, so let’s hope Sky don’t make him roll over to give Froome a 5th win. The Pyrenees will be the big test for G as they are steeper, and he has a reputation for having a bad day.

If he does pull off a famous victory he will be the first proper Brit to take the win, albeit a leek muncher. Wiggo was born in Ghent in Belgium and had an Aussie dad, and Froome is a South African educated Kenyan, so not British at all.

Matt and Robbies commentary has not given me the same material to pick apart that Phil and Paul used to, but maybe Matt is sinking into the role. I heard a couple of choice comments. “Valverde, first of the real contenders to crack”. Matt is an encyclopedia of cycling, but calling Valverde a real contender was as stupid as Phil Liggett saying that George Hincapie would be a real GC contender after LA retired. I heard Matt say “Front of the bike race” so now I am just waiting for a “Suitcase of courage”!

I did have a laugh in the wrap-up with Tommo and Robbie when Tommo said “It doesn’t get much better than this, does it Robbie”. Robbie replied “I don’t actually know Tommo….”

It was a bad day for my sisters team, Fat lasses at the back as she lost her top three riders in one fell swoop. And another special mention to my God daughters team, The Jazz Singer, who is now down to three riders.

Sicknote 3 consolidated his lead at the top with G’s historic win. Heartthrobs 3 moved into 2nd spot with Sam Green Machine slipping to 3rd. No change at the bottom with Il Papa holding on to the Lantern Rouge from Orange Cycle Lady 1. Big mover mention today goes to 21 Guns up 67 spots to start his run for a top 50 place.

Some calmer waters tonight I feel, before the madness starts again with the mountain top finish on Saturday night to Mende.